Often QPAC musicals have what appears to be a cast of hundreds, and hugely expensive costuming, lighting and staging. "Little Shop of Horrors" has nine in the cast, multi-tasking with manic energy. And a compact set. And a small musical combo. And it all works. Brilliantly.
Where one suspects real money was spent was on the two puppets which represent the young and the mature Audrey Two, the plant which the initially bumbling and inept orphan, Seymour, stumbles across and nurtures. The larger puppet is a superbly confronting creation of scarlet and green, with enormous tentacles and with praying mantis menace. Brent Hill (Seymour) also provides the Elvis-like voice for Audrey and does it so well it took this reviewer a while to spot that he was voicing both roles. The song "feed me" gives him a chance to showcase his talents. Just superb.
Problem is, the best way to make Audrey Two grow is to feed her human blood. Which moves the plot along with macabre inevitability.
Esther Hannaford's Audrey is in part moving, in part funny. Her tragi-comic role is of an attractive, damaged woman with low self-esteem who has been conditioned to expect abuse to be the cost of love. The emerging relationship between the damaged woman and the bumbling Seymour is delightfully realised.
The music is riveting. Highlights were "Somewhere that's Green" and "Suddenly Seymour".
Dentists get a bad rap, courtesy of Audrey's sadistic dentist boyfriend Orin (Scott Johnston) who really gets into the part of the abusive bullying sadist, making his over the top depiction simultaneously chilling and funny.
Linking everything are the rapid-fire, high energy close harmony singer-dancers Chloe Zuel, Josie Lane, and Angelique Cassimatis, playing street-wise inhabitants of Skid Row. Great voices, great energy, great dancing.
This is a musical which does not need a cast of hundreds to keep an audience engaged and enthralled.
If you only see one musical this year you would do well to choose "Little House of Horrors" – if you can manage to get a booking.